Arthropods: Creepy but Harmless in Iowa

Jun 9, 2017

Arthropods have a lot of legs. It’s easy to want to kill them when you find them in your house because they look creepy. But Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says most often, these animals are friends not foes.

“They’re not insects. They are closely related. These are  animals that have an exoskeleton and have jointed legs. Millipedes, centipedes, and sowbugs are important to our gardens. You’ll see these critters, and it’s like pulling weeds, it’s satisfying to be able to call them by their right names,” says Lewis. 

He says even though your knee-jerk reaction might be to hit them with your slipper, they are doing good things. 

“It’s like seeing a snake in the yard. I know the snake is harmless. I know it’s beneficial, but there’s this sort of tensing up. But centipedes are predators of other smaller insects, eggs, and spiders. They are beneficial when they are inside your house.”

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Lindsey Moon talks with Lewis about arthropods. Iowa State University Extension horticulturist Richard Jauron also joins the conversation to answer listener questions.